No one can deny the excitement produced by the idealistic, spirited competition of the Olympic Games. Even the 2016 Olympic team trials were a thrilling event for hosts in TrackTown USA (aka Eugene, Oregon). However, when it comes to the Olympics, all that glitters is not necessarily gold. Although Kenya took home the most Olympic medals in the country’s history during this year’s Games, these wins are being overshadowed by allegations of corruption and scandal.
Following this year’s Games, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta requested a formal investigation into the prevailing allegations of corruption within the Kenyan team of Olympic officials. Team leader, Stephen Arap Soi, has been charged with stealing approximately $250,000 originally meant to be used for the accommodations for Kenyan officials in Brazil. Prosecutors allege that Soi failed to declare the $234,000 in his possession on a flight to Brazil to customs agents. The money then went missing. Soi is further accused of stealing an additional $22,000 in smaller increments on separate occasions. Evidence has also showed that the sports ministry covered the cost of airline tickets for the team leader’s wife to attend the Games.
In addition to claims of corruption, two of the coaches from Team Kenya were sent home after they were found to have been involved in a doping scandal; one of these officials is also the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in Kenya. Two other Kenyan Olympic officials were charged with stealing Olympic team uniforms that had been provided by sponsor Nike.
Team Kenya is unfortunately no stranger to Olympic scandals. The 2012 London Olympics brought accusations of missing athletic kits, poor morale, and accreditation. Kenyan officials promised to do better, but at least the government is taking action. Kenyatta said in a statement that “every Kenyan must take their responsibilities seriously and be ready to face the consequences of their actions.”
It is, however, regrettable that the nation responsible for winning the second-highest number of medals in Rio is now plagued by claims of corruption and scandal rather than joyful celebration.